3 and 4 October, Guadalhorce

Two rather incomplete mornings birding down at the Guadalhorce but for very different reasons. Yesterday, 3 October was International Birds Day, a world wide celebration organised by BirdLife International and in Spain by its partner, SEO (the Spanish Ornithological Society) and at the most basic, local level, by volunteers from the Málaga branch of SEO.

3 October: People, people everywhere and not a lot to see, rather sums it up. The stand SEO where people could watch ringing taking place (I know they got a Bluethroat amongst many other spp.), children colour in bird outlines (new spp. for the field guides!) and have their faces painted rather sums it up. The hides were full, as can be seen, and folks were still pouring in at nearly 13.00 when I left, having been in there since about 0830 and having seen 2 handsome adult Nightherons before even crossing the bridge in. It is, of course, an event where one runs into people that haven't been seen for a year and that too takes it toll on the birding.

On the bird front there was not a lot to be seen. In the dead and dieing eucalyptus trees in which the first Cormorants back for the winter are starting to sit, there was the Osprey tucking into its breakfast and further to the left a pair of Peregrines, it being always exciting to see these as one never knows what they are going to do, while a pair of 2 juv. Marsh Harriers were floating around, one a very black bird.

I actually made it as far as the seawatch mirador and was surprised by the number of juvenile Gannets moving out westwards and saw what is an annual event, the westerly migration of Grey Herons, these cutting across the bay and making their landfall just about over the reserve before continuing either westwards or making their way inland. I didn't keep an exact count and nor was I watching specifically (tut-tut!) but there must have been 18-20 that I saw. In the wader line there were a few Black-winged Stilts, and singles of Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit. Hardly exciting but they probably saw the masses coming and got the hell of town! A fleeting glimpse of electric blue Kingfisher is always nice and at the opposite end of the scale an apparently drap but delicately marked Spotted Flycatcher was nicely visible, but in the it was people that were seen most.

4 October: This was a long-standing date to meet Ann and Dave Jefferson from Nerja, even though it was impossible for me stay a long time. An over-flying Sparrowhawk was vitutally the first bird I saw, but again, we spent as much time talking about their holiday in Scotland (Dave had previously sent me a great shot of an adult Sea Eagle). We went to the two hides and then the seawatch mirador along the eastern bank there were a few Swallows and Sand Martins were moving through, showing us that autumn is drawing onwards.

It was of some interest that at the laguna de la Casilla (in front of the first hide) there was a juv. Black Tern which Dave later managed to photograph (shown left here) and a few Pochard. On the way back there were also 2 juv. Little Terns, delicate little birds, which had come in and which are always a delight to watch. There doesn't appear to be a single White-headed Duck in the whole reserve at present - they're all up at tle laguna Dulce at Campillos having a convention! Down on the river at the end there was solitary Greenshank which we had heard earlier and a few juv. Gannets moving over the sea, but less than yesterday. In front of the second hide along the bank there were a few, rather sleepy Stilts, the more or less resident Spoonbills which seem to have been around for weeks and a single Common Sandpiper and by that time I had to make off for home, rather regrettably, as things promised to be better, and that without even visiting the laguna grande. Still, otra vez será.

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